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Friendship Park holds services

May 28, 2013
By ESTHER MCCOY - Staff writer ( , The Herald-Star

SMITHFIELD - The Veterans Wall of Honor now stands in semi-completion at the Fort Friendship Museum in Friendship Park, and many visitors gathered Monday to look over the 220 bricks that have been laid in the wall by masons Mike Panepucci and Sam Nardo since the beginning of spring.

This was part of the scenery, along with the tanks, airplanes, Howitzers and other military equipment when the Jefferson County Veterans Association Memorial Day program took place Monday.

Commander Bill Smythe announced bricks are still being sold for $50 and can be obtained by contacting Tony Phillippi, treasurer, at 1341 county Road 15, Rayland, Ohio 43943. The wall should be completed by Veterans Day and will be dedicated at that time, according Smythe.

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SPECIAL SERVICES — William Duvall, Navy Korean War veteran with the U.S.S. Randolph CVA-15, read “An Ordinary Soldier,” during Memorial Day services Monday at Friendship Park. He discussed how the common soldier cleans up all problems other people start and how a soldier should be honored for paying the ultimate price by giving up his past and future for America. - Esther McCoy

While the Buckeye Local High School Marching Band played the song corresponding to each branch of service, the flag for that branch was raised, along with the flag of Ohio and the POW flag by Ed Waldman.

Jack Campbell, county chaplain, gave the opening prayer, and Frank Santa served as program planner and emcee.

Smythe said the service is for veterans of all wars - those who defended our American heritage against the forces of evil. "They fought with their hearts and minds as well as their bodies," he said.

Noting that serving together in military service can cement the bonds of friendship for a lifetime, Smythe introduced Barry Barpone, who read a letter about two comrades from Vietnam he had come to know, love and keep in his heart for years. One was killed when he enlisted in the Army after completing the Air Force with Barpone and became a helicopter pilot. He was killed in a wreck which Barpone knew nothing about and regretted the fact that he had turned down the invitation to be his best man years before. The other was about a boyhood friend who he found on the Vietnam Wall in 1998 and touched the name with reverence as if he were touching that old friend in life once again.

He said both were his heroes. "America's greatest assets are its heroes," he said.

Gilbert Powell of the Smithfield American Legion Post many years.

Bill Duvall, Navy veteran in the Korean War, read "An Ordinary Soldier," saying a soldier dies with little fanfare but he should be remembered as one who cleaned up the problems that other people started and paid the ultimate price for his actions.

U.S. Rep Bill Johnson, R-Marietta, was the keynote speaker. He has a career in military as he served in the Air Force for 26 years and received awards.

"It's a humbling opportunity to stand with you and remember the sacrifices of so many. I have a first cousin who was killed in 1968 in the Tet Offensive and only his dog tags and parts of a wallet with a picture of me in it were ever found of him," he said.

"During the first 100 years of our growing pain years, there were 680,000 to die in the battle for freedom. The largest conflict, the Civil War had 625,000; World War I had 116,000 and World War II had 405,000. Then came Korea with 37,000 and Vietnam with 58,000. To date, 7,000 have given their lives fighting a war against an enemy who is determined to change the way we live. They will do anything to tear our country apart. We face a determined and resistant enemy and anyone who thinks it is going to stop should know that it is not. But we are determined-we will not give up," he said.

"We can put our heads in the sand and try to isolate ourselves. We can cause total annihilation to anyone who stands up to us. Or we can remain strong-vow to be the strongest nation on the planet," Johnson said.

He noted there are 83,000 POWs and policies need to be intensified to find them. In the 6th District of Ohio, there are 57,000 veterans and 7,000 in Jefferson County, he said.

He reminded everyone to thank a veteran for their service to the county. "The cost of freedom is high. Let's remember what America stands for," he said.

Boyd Walker played taps to conclude the service after the firing squad.

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